Advocacy

Protect ya neck.

Yeah.  Shit happens.  Sometimes cyclists are hit by cars.  It’s happened to most of us, with varying degrees of damage to our bikes and our bodies.  It’s not a good thing to dwell on, but you should definitely stay alert, and obviously do what you can to be seen on the road when riding.  Especially under poor visibility, such as darkness, fog, rain, and when you are hidden behind cars.  Take a lane if necessary, it is within your legal rights to do so.

I came across this little piece on the Cascade page.  It’s worth the read.  It was written by John Duggan.

John Duggan is an avid cyclist and attorney who represents injured  cyclists. He is a member of the Cascade Bicycle Club, Bicycle Alliance of  Washington, and the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association.  He can  be reached at (206) 343-1888 or johnd@warrenduggan.com.

You might be on your club training ride, commuting to work or  simply out riding with friends, and when you least expect it, your worst  fear becomes a reality.  The minivan approaching from the opposite  direction makes a left turn in front of you. You lock up your brakes, skid  and crash into the passenger side of the minivan.  You have some road  rash but quickly realize you’re not dead, and your adrenaline kicks in.   The minivan driver immediately takes the offensive and asks why you  were riding in the roadway and why you did not stop.

Unfortunately, I’ve been in this situation twice, and both times I  thought I wasn’t injured and could ride away.  In each instance,  approximately a mile down the road, I realized I was injured, my bike  was damaged and I was looking for the nearest emergency room.  By this  time, it may be too late to gather the information you need to make a  claim against the at-fault driver.  Through my personal experience on the  bike as well as my experience representing injured cyclists, I have  learned what you should and should not do if you find yourself a victim  of a negligent driver.  Keep in mind that as a cyclist, you are usually  behind the eight ball.  To preserve your rights, keep in mind the  following:

•  Do remain calm and non-confrontational.

•  Do call the police and insist that the officer files a police report.  In  the event that an officer does not respond, go to a police station  and file an accident report within 72 hours of the incident.

•  Do get the vehicle driver’s insurance information, address, phone  number and license plate number.

•  Do get the name, phone number and address of every witness.

•  Do get the necessary medical treatment.

•  Do have your bike thoroughly inspected by a reputable bike shop.

•  Do take photographs of the accident scene, your injuries, your bike  and all other involved vehicles (your new camera phone may come  in handy!).

•  Do not lose your temper or argue with the vehicle driver.

•  Do not minimize your injuries or your bike damage.

•  Do not give a statement to the vehicle driver’s insurance without  first consulting with an attorney.

•  Do not rush into any settlement until you know the full extent of  your injuries and bike damage.

In most bicycle/motor vehicle accident claims, I demand that the  insurance company declare the bike and all damaged clothing and  accessories a total loss and pay full replacement value.  As will be  discussed in a future article, in most bicycle/motor vehicle accidents in  Washington, regardless of who was at fault, the vehicle driver’s insurance  will pay reasonable and necessary medical bills and some wage loss.

Hopefully you will never find yourself in a situation where you need  to use this information, but if you do, you will be prepared.

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